It is staggering how much we don’t understand about the most common household pet. We call dogs our ‘best friends.’ Yet, we continue to make incorrect assumptions about their behavior. For instance, human beings still don’t have a proper grasp of the fear mechanism in canines. We see a dog that barks and bares its teeth and assume it must be dangerous. In some cases, this is true. However, dogs are much like us. They don’t get angry for no reason. Often, responses that look and sound like aggression are actually rooted in fear. Most behavioral experts agree that canines are naturally social animals. No matter their breed, they enjoy communication, touch, play, and contact.
The only reason a dog adopts aggressive or violent tendencies is it’s been trained or directed to do so. This is clearly evident in police and military canines. They can be ferocious and chase down a criminal, but they only follow such orders to win praise and love from their owners. They have no interest in causing hurt or damage. This is all to say that, despite our great love for dogs, we still struggle to deal with anything but the friendliest, cheeriest animals. It’s why so many pups end up in shelters or get put down. In many parts of the US, the number of dogs in shelters has spiraled. It’s a big problem and, to solve it, we need to revise some of the things we think we know about man’s best friend.